BrainTrust Query: Asda Takes the ‘Pulse of the Nation’
Commentary by Joel Warady, Principal,
Joel Warady Group
In an interesting experiment,
Asda, which is what Wal-Mart is called in the U.K., is turning over some
of the buying decisions to its customers. Asda will start to e-mail to
a group of 18,000 customers, which it has termed its "Pulse of the
The e-mails will contain
images and descriptions of new products sourced from the Far East, and
the Pulse group will have the option of providing a positive or negative
response as to whether or not they think it is a product that should be
carried in the stores.
According to a microsite
for the Pulse of the Nation panel,
those responding to the e-mails each month will be entered into a drawing
to win free prizes in addition to "having the opportunity to make your voice heard." Currently,
the two top winners each month receive a gift worth £250. The program also
on a monthly basis hands out four vouchers of £40, eight vouchers of £20,
and 16 vouchers of £10. Although sponsored by Asda, Pulse of the Nation
is owned and operated by the market research firm TNS.
Asda sees it as a way
to engage more effectively with its customers through the use of the digital
Not only does this take
more power away from the manufacturers and brand owners, it also takes
the power away from the buyer, and turns it over to the customer. This
can make for a very interesting dynamic, if it works, and it will be interesting
to see how the product mix might change that exists on the store shelves.
In essence, it becomes
a "Focus Group on Steroids," and puts the power of brand decisions
into the hands of the end-user. Think about how this might work for your
business or service. Can your business develop a Pulse group, and can you
use it to help plan your product launches? Letting customers choose
your next products helps build-in initial sales as soon as the products
are launched, because the engaged customer now has some skin in the game.
All the more reason why
it is so important to continue to build the long-term relationships with
your customers, and work towards making them an integral part of your business
decisions. As we always say, when all is said and done, the Customer Owns
Your Brand, not you!
Discussion Questions: What do you think
of Asda’s move to get customers involved in buying decisions? What
opportunities do you see in online consumer panels for this and other
functions? What are the overall challenges of getting consumers more involved
in business decision-making?